West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on October 29 met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and discussed the "state of affairs and affairs of state", which he said, has turned into a police state and criticised its law and order situation.
During the hour-long meeting, Dhankhar apprised the union home minister about various issues concerning the state.
The meeting bears significance as the governor is known for often expressing his disagreement on various matters in West Bengal, including the recent political killings and alleged "worsening" law and order situation in the state. This has invited sharp reactions from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her government.
Several senior leaders of BJP has been demanding imposition of President's Rule in the state, citing the "breakdown" of its law and order.
Stung by the governor's strong words against the state government, the ruling Trinamool Congress hit back accusing him of acting as a "loudspeaker" of the BJP and "a disgrace to the Raj Bhavan".
"West Bengal Governor Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar called on the Union Home Minister Shri Amit Shah today at his residence. Governor Dhankhar was with the Union Home Minister for over an hour and state of affairs and affairs of state in West Bengal were traversed," read a post on the official Twitter handle of the West Bengal governor after the meeting.
Addressing reporters after the meeting, Dhankar said he cannot go into the specifics of the meeting but divulged that he had discussed the "status of democratic institutions and issues of public interest" with the home minister.
He alleged that the police and bureaucracy are being politicised in West Bengal and they are working as "foot soldiers" of the state government.
He claimed that bomb-making factories are being unearthed in the state everyday and referred to the arrest of Al-Qaeda operatives from Murshidabad district.
"Al-Qaeda is spreading its fangs in West Bengal" the governor claimed.
On West Bengal assembly elections scheduled in April-May 2021, Dhankar said, he is "committed to ensuring a free, fair, fearless atmosphere for elections in the state".
"My concern is not who is being elected, but my concern is how the election is taking place," he said. Dhankhar has often been at loggerheads with the TMC government and in September he clashed with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for summoning the state's director general of police and calling the state "home to illegal bomb-aking".
"I have witnessed a continual decline of democratic governance. Political violence, vendetta is a daily affair. Targeted killings are being seen very often. As a constitutional head, I have witnessed it.
"The greatest challenge is that the police and bureaucracy are being politicised. They are working as foot soldiers of the state government. I have time and again appealed to them that what you are doing is beyond your Constitutional rights... It has become a police state," the governor said.
Dhankhar asserted that government officers are accountable and they must remember it as "no arm of law will spare anyone." "I sent an input to the DGP apprehending threat perception for an association with an MP. But after that Manish Shukla was murdered. After it the chief minister took a stand on behalf of the DGP through a letter. How can a constitutional head have a sound sleep when violence, vendetta is taking place ?" he asked.
Shukla, a close aide of Barrackpore's BJP MP Arjun Singh, was shot dead in front of the party's office at Titagarh in North 24 Parganas district on October 4. The Criminal Investigation Department has so far arrested three persons in connection with the killing.
The faceoff between Raj Bhavan and the state government set off a political storm in the state with the Bengal BJP standing firmly behind Dhankhar and the TMC openly asking whether the "governor has taken over the mantle of the state BJP president".
Senior TMC MP, Kalyan Banerjee Thursday accused the Governor of being the "loudspeaker of BJP" and "a disgrace to the Raj Bhawan".
"The Governor of West Bengal @jdhankhar1 is a loudspeaker of BJP. Did he go to meet the Home Minister, or did he go to meet his BJP leaders? He has done it around 99 times, so this must be chapter 100. Once again, he went to Delhi with his garbage of lies," he tweeted.
Hitting back at Dhankhar for alleging a "worsening" law and order situation in the state, Banerjee in a series of tweets said the festive occasion (Durga Puja) was held peacefully across Bengal. "The joy of the festival was shared by crores of people in Bengal in harmony. He (Dhankhar) is a disgrace to Raj Bhavan".
The opposition Congress and the CPI(M) too criticised the Governor for "compromising" his position to "please the BJP bosses" but agreed that the law and order situation is "not good" in the state.
Coming out in support of Dhankhar, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said, there is anarchy inWest Bengal.
"He (Dhankhar) has spoken the truth about the law and order situation in the state. No one disagrees with that. More than 120 BJP workers have been killed in the state in the last few years. The TMC, instead of trying to improve the situation, is busy blaming the governor and the BJP," he said.